At the 2014 Maison d’Exceptions show in Paris earlier this year, a couple of foreign exhibitors combined the three notions of innovation, craftsmanship and industry to demonstrate their unique know-how. In some cases, the use of machines which had been originally designed to manufacture industrial products was twisted to create new fabrics for example, such as polymer lace.
Belgian-based atelier A+Z Design « combines an alphabet of inventive processes that juxtapose manual painting, transfers and laser-cutting to offer a made-to-measure production service for fashion and interior designers. »
Italian company Ligneah patented an alternative material to leather goods in the form of articulated wood that can be used for bags as well as for sneakers: « the surprising treatment […] consists in adhering fine sheets of wood, micro-engraved by laser, onto a textile support with an environmentally-friendly glue. » These examples embody a form of hybridization between artisanal crafts, industrial steps and innovations from advanced industries – such as the chemical industry – or more traditional industries such as the wood industry.
It is very interesting for brands to be confronted with the reality of techniques which are not based – or only partially based – on traditional know-how and integrate a strong component of innovation while crafting most items by hand.
Some techniques or know-how naturally require more inventive skills than others to evolve though and only the best craftsmen are able to take them to a whole new level. Japanese atelier Tamiya Raden has been combining for a couple of decades three separate traditional techniques – washy paper, marqueterie and weaving – to weave mother-of-pearl patterns and fabrics, which is an astonishing achievement.